Whip up a pumpkin slab pie in minutes. Just press the nutty pastry dough into the pan, fill with creamy pumpkin filling and bake. No messy rolling of dough, but all the delicious spicy flavour of traditional pie. You don't need a special occasion to make this one. (Skip to recipe.)
But then, again, it would be just the right sweet nibble to finish off your Thanksgiving feast.
Pumpkin pie is really a North American taste. For us, it signifies autumn leaves, and harvest, and the sweet spices of fall. We associate it with the wonderful memories of warm family Thanksgiving dinners and happy Christmas gatherings. A slice of pumpkin pie, either topped with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream is comfort food.
I like nothing better than a wedge of it for breakfast the morning after the feast - after all it does contain squash, so you're getting some veggies, right?
We've had four different German exchange students live with us as our kids were growing up, and with each one we'd be so eager to share our Thanksgiving food traditions, telling them about the delicious pumpkin pie, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and side dishes. The turkey - they could appreciate, digging in with gusto. Cranberry sauce was new to them, and they ate it cautiously, enjoying it more with every bite. Stuffing - weird, but tasted good. Sweet potatoes - hmmm, but yum. Other side dishes - great!
Pumpkin pie? There was much anticipation, and then after one bite each student usually made a strange face and either politely left the rest untouched or unceremoniously pushed it away with a gagging sound, rushing for water to wash away the strange taste. This pie hadn't been at all what they were expecting. We'd always laugh (politely, of course). Europeans love our fruit pies; blueberry, cherry, apple. They love our lemon meringue pies, and even our pecan pies.
Pumpkin pie - not so much.
I guess this sweet spicy squash pie is an acquired taste. It's one that we've all acquired and love without reservation. What's not to love? Smooth creamy texture. Sweet pumpkin richness. Warm autumn spices. Plus it's that harbinger of warm winter meals and nesting and coziness, of time in the kitchen happily fiddling with pastry and pumpkin and sugar.
Pumpkin slab pie gives you all that, but the fiddling with the pastry part is a breeze. No worries about rolling out reluctant dough - just smush it into a ball and press it into the pan as if it was playdough. Child's play, really.
Then you whiz up the filling, pour it in the pan and bake it. The filling is lightened up with a little extra applesauce, but you could also just add another ½ cup pumpkin puree if you wish. And in case you have someone with allergies in the mix, this pumpkin pie is gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free to boot (with silken tofu standing in to provide protein and a velvety smoothness). It's a real crowdpleaser, easy to serve and eat out of hand while standing around and visiting. Plus, if you've filled up on turkey and all the trimmings, a little sliver of this pie still always fits in. 🙂
This recipe is based on my regular egg-free pumpkin pie, with a crust made softer for easy patting into the pan and a touch of oats and pecans added for rustic flavour.
Go ahead, cut yourself a big slab for breakfast, too.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: For this recipe it is important to use silken or smooth tofu, it has a different texture than regular soft tofu. Silken soft tofu is often sold in tetrapacks in the Asian section of the grocery store. Here in Alberta I can find smooth tofu, which comes with two blocks packed in water in 700 gram packages, at Superstore. One of the blocks is just enough for one pumpkin slab pie. Store the other block covered in water in an airtight container in the fridge for two to three days.
*If you don't have oat flour on hand, you can grind ½ cup rolled oats in the blender to make oat flour
Egg-Free Pumpkin Slab Pie
dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, vegan & nut-free versions
for the crust:
- 2 cups (280gms) gluten-free or regular all purpose flour (I use this gluten-free blend)
- ½ cup (50gms) oat flour*, gluten free if necessary
- ¼ cup (30gms) finely chopped pecans (omit for nut-free)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (115gms) lard or shortening
- ¼ cup (60gms) butter (use additional lard or shortening for dairy-free or vegan)
- ½ cup (120ml) ice water
for the filling:
- 12 oz (350gms) silken tofu or smooth tofu, soft (or you can substitute 2 large eggs, beaten + 1½ cups/360ml half-and-half or cereal cream for a regular version)
- ¾ cup (150gms) sugar
- ½ cup (60ml) applesauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or tapioca starch
- 1¾ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ginger, ⅛ tsp. nutmeg, ⅛ tsp. allspice)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 can (398ml/14oz.) pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling (or 1¾ cup + 2 tablespoons homemade pumpkin purée)
- optional - whipped cream (or coconut cream) and pecans for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
to make the crust:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oat flour, pecans, and salt. Dice the lard and butter and add it to the dry ingredients. Cut it into the flour with a pastry cutter or two butter knives until it you have pea-sized chunks.
Add the ice water and stir with a wooden spoon, then use your hands to quickly knead the mass into a ball that sticks together. Try not to overwork it - if you can still see some lumps of butter and lard, that is what you're aiming for, because as those lumps melt during baking, they make pockets in the dough, producing a flaky crust.
Tear the dough into small pieces and spread them out in a 10x15 inch (26x38cm) baking sheet pan. With your fingers, press the pastry dough pieces into the bottom of the pan and about ½ inch (1cm) up the sides to form an even crust. Make sure to push the dough out so it's not thick along the crease where the sides of the pan bend upwards. Use your fingers or the bottom of a metal measuring cup to push the dough neatly into the edges.
to make the filling:
In a blender, or in a bowl using an immersion blender, puree the tofu, sugar, applesauce, cornstarch, spices, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
Stir in the pumpkin puree by hand (in order to preserve the texture of the pumpkin).
Place the pastry-lined baking sheet on the very bottom rack of the oven. Pull the rack out part way and carefully pour the filling into the crust. Smooth the top with a spatula and carefully slide the rack back into the oven.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is slightly puffed. If your pan is aluminum or light-coloured, you may need an extra five minutes of baking time to brown the bottom. Cracks in the filling just add to this pie's rustic charm.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill for 3 to 4 hours, uncovered, before slicing.
Cut into 24 squares, or 12 larger squares, slicing each square diagonally to make 24 triangles. If cutting triangles, cut each corner piece diagonally into the corner, rather than across it, so that no piece has two sides with a crust edge.
Keeps chilled, lightly covered with foil, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Makes 24 squares or triangles. You can garnish each piece with a dollop of whipped cream and a pecan half or a sprinkling of chopped pecans if you wish.
You might also like: